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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has criticized abortion as evidence of a "throwaway culture" that wastes people as well as food.

In Monday's annual speech on world crises, Francis cited abortion and said: "Unfortunately what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary."

Francis also urged better respect for migrants and denounced the persecution of Christians in Asia, Africa and the Middle East in his address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See.

The pope said Italy should do more for migrants and generously "take in the weakest and most vulnerable." Each year, thousands attempt risky voyages across the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats heading toward Italy and other European Union nations, and hundreds die en route.